Live chicks ground up – Animal Aid investigation reveals yet more horror from the game bird shooting industry

Posted on the 11th August 2019

Animal Aid has captured exclusive footage from a game bird hatchery (Heart of England Game Farm, Warwickshire) which shows hatching and live chicks being tossed into a macerator – a high-speed grinder.

In the film, you can clearly see chicks hatching out of eggs – just before they are thrown into the macerator. The film also shows hatched chicks, presumed to be unsuitable for selling, being thrown into the machine.

At a second game farm (Bettws Hall in Wales), trays of eggs are seen being loaded into the macerator but are not even checked for signs of life. Yet on the audio, you can hear chicks cheeping and close-ups of the trays show birds moving about.

Shockingly, killing live birds in this way is not illegal. By law, farms are allowed to kill chicks in this way until they are 72 hours old.

At the first location – Heart of England Game Farm– the footage covers a whole day inside the hatchery, where trays and trays of chicks are taken out of the incubators and sorted onto a production line. At the end of the conveyor belt, the chicks are loaded into boxes to be sold to game farms or shoots – their destiny being to be used as feathered targets for shooters.

The footage also shows chicks being dropped on the ground, getting stuck in the machinery and being kicked out from under the conveyor belt. Eggs that are not yet hatched are tossed into the macerator. We also witnessed some live chicks being thrown into the macerator.

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Pictures from Heart of England and Bettws Hall

Animal Aid is calling for an end to the production of birds for ‘sport’ shooting. A 2018 YouGov poll found that 69% of people think that shooting birds for sport should be illegal, whilst only 18% thought it should be legal, and a further 13% did not have an opinion on the issue.

Says Fiona Pereira, Animal Aid Campaign Manager:

‘The shooting industry has no regard for the lives of the birds from which it profits. Our investigations over the last 15 years have shown the birds used for breeding being confined to inhumane metal boxes, often without enrichment – and with no chance of freedom.

‘Our latest film reveals the mass production and misery of the offspring of those birds – who are hatched, thrown onto a conveyor belt and boxed up – as if they were inanimate objects. Some individual chicks even faced an unthinkably violent death in the macerator. It is a disgraceful, hidden part of the shooting industry – these tiny chicks have no chance of escaping their fates.

‘Our ultimate goal is an end to the killing of animals for sport, but in the interim we call for a ban on the production of birds for the shooting industry. Such a ban already exists in the Netherlands. We are sure that once people see this heartbreaking footage, they will be horrified and will support our campaign.’

Notes to editors

  • A 2-minute version of the film is also available.
  • Around 50 million birds are produced for the shooting industry each year.
  • A June 2018 YouGov poll of over 2000 people across Great Britain on behalf of Animal Aid and the League Against Cruel Sports, revealed that 80 per cent oppose the use of cages to confine breeding birds (only 11% disagreed). The poll also found that 69% of people think that shooting birds for sport should be illegal (only 18% thought it should be legal, 13% did not have an opinion on the issue). After being told about the cages, the percentage of people who think that shooting birds should be illegal rose to 73%.


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